tv [untitled] April 21, 2012 3:00pm-3:30pm EDT
dedicate the monument in 1922, about the same time that the lincoln memorial was dedicated, it was going to be general grant's 100th birthday and he die died right before that, and so he was literally trampled by that statue. between 1861 and 1868 clara barton lived on the third floor of this washington, d.c., building and operating a missing soldiers office. the vacant former boardinghouse was saved from demolition in the late 1990s when hundreds of civil war era artifacts were discovered in the attack. we met historian susan rosenval
for a tour. >> the space behind me was last renovated in 1910 and starts right here at this landing all of this stairwell and bannister that you see here were the original bannisters and steps for when clara barton was here, so i'm really walking exactly on the same stairs with my hand on the same rail that clara barton did for that eight-year period of time when she lived here in the building. just recently the general services administration got in touch with my museum, the national museum of civil war medicine, and we together proposed a partnership to make this space a museum so people everywhere could enjoy the historical significance of this and hopefully learn about humanitarianism and the importance of public service.
so, the building was originally scheduled for demolition. it was owned by gsa. they did end up selling it with a perpetual easement for the entire third floor which was miss barton's space, and half of the first floor where we hope to put in a welcome center and have educational programs. the gsa felt pretty strongly about this and we're waiting for the right kind of partner to come along and the medical museum aspect of it and, of course, clara barton contributed significantly to the medical efforts during the american civil war. so, she's a natural part of our museum already, and we're very enthusiastic about being able to tell people more about her and use the space to help us do that. this is the space that she would have lived in. if you look up at the ceiling, you can see where each of these
support beams are, you can see this beam across here with the holes in it. those were the original walls for the boarding rooms, and so this room would have been room number six, and when you cross here, it would be room number nine, and as you cross the other post, you're in room number 11, had is where chara divided up her space and used half for storage and half for her own personal space. so, it's right behind that wall. originally the wall went all the way across, and the door over here was the original door and she had another door added on on the other side. so, this space, of course, as you see it right now has not received any treatment whatsoever. because of safety regulations, a fire suppression system has been put in, but other than that you can still see that the wiring is
not exactly in mace. it's more temporary, and then down there is one of the gas pipes hanging down where that light would have been for that room. this is a very busy place. seventh street was pretty much one of the main streets in washington. the market was down at the end of the streets where the national archives is now, the big market for town. this street was full of businesses on the first floor. it was really kind of considered a business district. that's how it's described by her friends and colleagues when they talk about living space here that, you know, within the business section, not exactly the most family atmosphere. one of the reasons i believe that she took this space, took a room here, was because her office, the patent office, is right down the street just a block away. and so it was easy for her to walk down the stairs, out the building, and just go over one
block across the street and she was at her office. she got involved here because she moved to washington after a bad experience in public schooling. she founded a public school in borden town, new jersey, grew it from three students to over 600 and then when the town decided that they wanted this to be a permanent fixture in their community, they hired a man to become the principal. back in those days women weren't considered competent to do things like that, and so even though clara had built the mace from ground up, when she was replaced, she was, let's say, not quite very, you know, a little bit on the insulted side, and so she left borden town pretty quickly and decided to move down to washington, d.c., she said she wasn't sure why, but she did come down to washington. i guess a change of pace. she was very independent. didn't want to be considered a dependent of her family in
massachusetts, so she was really trying to develop her own independent life. and washington was a good place to do that. she was such a good organizer and clerk and she had fantastic handwriting for the day that she was able to secure a position through another man from massachusetts, charles mason, who was the commissioner of patents to work as his confidential clerk at the same rate that men were paid which is extremely unusual. in fact, she was the first woman who got a permanent government position at a man's pay. they had women in government before that, but they were substituting for men. so, she was the first one who got that and, of course, that came back to bite her because there was an uproar over that from within the patent office, and not only did she end up losing her job, but all of the other women in her office were literally thrown out of the office and were forced to go to
the patent office to pick up work, take it home, do it at home and bring it back for much less pay. this upset her enough so that she eventually moved back to massachusetts for a couple of years where she kind of floundered. and the commissioner had left. and when he came back in 1860, he wrote to clara and said, come work for me. i'm back in washington. se, she d so she did, came back in late 1860, and got her job back at the patent office. well, during the beginning of the civil war, after ft. sumter that set it off were what was called the baltimore riots. abraham lincoln called troops up, and the first troops to come up were massachusetts, and they had to be former school children of clara's when she was a teacher in massachusetts very early on. when she heard they were the fellas that were wounded and
held for or cared for at the senate chambers, she made a mad dash over there to visit them because she knew they were former students and friends of hers and she saw that they had absolutely nothing. they had lost all of the things they had brought on the train with them in baltimore and the u.s. government was unprepared to have to treat wounded this way, so they are sitting in the senate chambers on marble floor, so she came home, gathered everything she could spare. started asking her friends for supplies. wrote home to her friends in new england for supplies, and now she's into humanitarian relief supply business. so, she very quickly realized what a large job this is and something that she was very, very well suited for. basically after years of kind of floundering and not knowing what she really wanted to do with her
life, she found it here in washington, d.c., in the senate chambers. so, she started gathering up supplies and started lobbying the u.s. war department to be able to take her supplies out to the field and deliver them to the soldiers herself. and, of course, that was a tremendous service because although they thought a woman at the time couldn't handle going to a battlefield, not only did she go to the battlefield and help the wounded, she would move forward on the battlefield and help wounded soldiers being pulled off of the field instead of waiting back at the field hospital for people to come to her. she always wanted to -- she always said that she wanted to fill the voids, a need, where they were out there and that's really how she became the humanitarian relief organizer that noise known for today and developed the american red cross. so, it's really a tremendous story. so, here are some of the things
that we found in this space since we came in here. a big chunk of wallpaper. you can see, again, several heyers. here's a layer right there. the top layer, of course, was the last layer that was put on before 1910. one of my favorite things is that the building was made, the walls were all made from horsehair plaster, and as you can see, there's a big chunk of horsehair in this plaster, so this is definitely original, and a very interesting way, very, very good, solid walls from horsehair plaster. so, these are some of the things that we're saving in order to assess in the restoration and conservation process. we found a lot of wallpaper hanging everywhere. so, wallpaper is -- and that's a great source for trying to re-create the way the space looked when clara barton and edward shaw and their friends and colleagues were living in
here. some of the other really cool things that we found are these. these are box locks. they're made out of brass. they are originals from the doors and, of course, it wasn't really very socially acceptable for a single woman to have men visiting, so she would definitely -- clara would definitely want her privacy protected. although she did have quite a few callers that included senators, congressmen, high-level military officials. the only person of significance that she never got to meet was abraham lincoln. she sat at the white house many, many, many hours trying to see him and never got an appointment to see him, so i think she regretted that after he was assassinated, that she had a lot of admiration for lincoln. this contraption right here i pulled when i went up to the attic, i just pulled anyone
within reach that i thought looked like old wood or formed wood, and so this was one of the items that i had to get out from underneath a bunch of construction trash from the removal -- or the replacement of the roof, and this we have realized is the top frame for a canopy that went on an ambulance, and my boss george wonderlic, actually was able to identify it probably mostly because we're in the medical museum business and ambulances from the civil war were very, very important for transporting the wounded as well as supplies. so, we were very excited to be able to find this. there's not very many of these in existence left. and barrel tops. a lot of signs. clara, of course, tried to reuseving, and so she had a lot of crate pieces that she could
put back together. i can show you one of those later. one had very interesting writing on it that is confusing and confounding us at this point. we don't know that this belonged to clara because there are so many other people involved in living or working here on the floor. but you'll see the sign says "the souls of the virtuous departed money no object cash paid to satan." and, you know, it's very, very curious and intriguing to think why this was in the attic. it's a very unusual kind of sign. this item that we found in the attic is the envelope for a stationery set, a military portfolio as it's called on here. clara used these as a fund-raising product while the civil war was going on.
you can see how nice and fancy the engraving work that is done on this. it also lists what was -- what was in the kit to include 30 or 40 sheets of paper, a pin mib, a pen set, a blotting paper, pocket calendar, there's quite a few things in here. in fact, i'm not quite sure how all of that could possibly fit in one of these. but she had tied this together to hang up for when she was out trying to sell these. so, if she had a booth at the market and she could hang this up and people could come by where she was and take a look at what she had there. so, of course, she produced many, many of these, and some of the things that we found in the attic were the boxes and containers that she purchased to fill these portfolios up with.
we found several of these in the attic adhesive boxes. she also, of course, collected a lot of things to use in the field. one of the really bags that i like is this salt bag from the period. salt was very, very important to the diet, many of the foods were preserved in salt. of course, people like to use salt as a spice. so, salt was really a premium during the war. a little more socially we found up there in the attic one of these carpet slippers. actually, we found more than one of them, but we just have only one out here. believe it or not, this is a carpet slimmer that you would lounge around in the house. probably belonged to edward shaw. men at that time wore very fancy things especially when they were at home, smoking jackets and
smoking caps and carpet slippers and that kind of thing, so it's really not that unusual. down on the end here we have an oil havhaversack. it has a small booklet it in that i don't want to pull out from 1827 that we believe belonged to edward shaw. another interesting thing is we're going through the inventory and catalogs with this piece right here, what's labeled as a sack, when in reality when you see the buttonholes up here and compare the sizes, this is a haversack liner that was commonly used during the civil war. and so it would have been -- it wouldn't have been very unusual at all for -- to find something like this up in the attic. i can't say that itbelonged to that haversack but it's quite possible that it did. the one last thing that intrigues many people is this
item right here. this is a military bayonet and it was also found in the attic. and several people have asked me why. why would chai clara barton, anf the battlefield, be carrying a bayonet around with her. i don't think she used it for protection. this was actually somewhat of a leatherman of the 19th century, an all-purpose tool. so rather than using this in battle, you could also use it for things like stick it in the ground as a candleholder, you can use it for digging things. you can see this is bent, they probably used it to pry things open with, maybe crate boxes, anything like that. you could use it as a tent stake buried in the ground and tie your tent to that. really it has 101 uses at least and people really appreciated having these not as a weapon as much as for as a tool to use in
camp and such. a lot of guys would wrap dough around it or stick meat on it or use it as a skewer when they were cooking, so there are a lot of really neat things that you could do with a bayonet that made it a very, very handy tool at that time. and if you want to come across the hall right here, another fabulous artifact that we have, another one of my favorites, is up here on the ceiling. one of the things that clara wrote about in her diary is you see this wide white and kind of a light blue wallpaper on the ceiling, that is the wallpaper that clara describes putting up in the middle of the night during her time here. she had insomnia and because of that she writes in her diary that one night she couldn't sleep, so she just got up and she started wallpapering, and she describes white-on-white patterned wallpaper and this is
the wallpaper that you see up here that she describes in her diary. we don't have this listed as her boarding room so we're wondering now if was in this -- if she lived in this space for a period of time. those are some of the mysteries of the clues that we find in the building that make this place, you know, so interesting and fascinating because it's -- there's a kind of a contradicting picture right now, first looking in to it. i think this was a higher-scale boardinghouse. i don't think it was for middle-class people. clara came from a family that was fairly well to do. the other boarders in here were professionals, and she received such high-level people visiting her that i think that it would have been a very nice place to come to. although she does talk about it being cheerless whenever she came back to recover from her
jaunts out into the battlefield from time to time during the civil war. she had -- she tended towards depression. and if, you know, just like with other depressed people i think when things didn't go the way she had hoped for a period of time, she would get depressed, but many times when she went out to the field, if she wasn't sick when she left, she was sick when she was there. at the battle of tsof the antid she got typhoid fever and she was so sick out on the battlefield that after three days, she had to leave the area. she just couldn't continue on there. but that was the first place she was able to actually get to the battlefield while the battle was going on, and it's really an extraordinary feat when you consider how sick she was and the fact that she still went all the way out to maryland and
participated in helping the wounded get off the field and feeding them and providing the humanitarian relief not only for the wounded but for their caretakers, the surgeons and hospital stewards, ambulance drivers that she could bring supplies to. the u.s. army was doing the best that they could and actually did make very good strides medically and logistically during the war, but, of course, with the sheer amount of numbers that they had, it was very, very difficult for them to keep up. and, of course, so missing soldiers naturally fell into a category that was somewhat neglected, so she was very happy to add that, you know, to keep herself moving and involved at times when she didn't have a whole lot of other work to be doing. and then that naturally fell into any time of war when you have missing soldiers, but clara
barton was actually the person after getting a u.s. charter for the american association of the international red cross, she's the one who suggested to them and had an amendment made for the international red cross to include natural disasters, not just war. and i like to think that, you know, of course, she didn't want to be working during a war, but then if there was no war, what was she going to do, so she was very happy to be able to add natural disaster and really expand the amount of service that she could provide to not just include the military but include, you know, everyday citizens first in the united states and eventually internationally. so, the missing persons area is very important to that as well as supplying, you know, whatever kinds of supplies they had. her early work in the united states, she actually built motels in the natural disaster
area for her to give people a place to live when they had lost everything. so, you know, she just didn't want to limit it to military functions. she really wanted to be able to touch as many people as she possibly could. i work for the national museum of civil war medicine. we are a nonprofit museum, privately owned. where we specialize in telling the story and kind of enlightening people on the medical innovations that took place during the civil war. civil war medicine through the movies especially it's been depicted as butchers and they didn't have anesthesia and, you know, to be a soldier in the civil war era just meant death and, you know, dying and misery. and while some of that is true, some of the medical innovations that took place during the war
still affect people today, some of the leadership that was developed during the war because of their situation, the leadership that we can still use today. in fact, my museum trains most of the medical administrative managers that are going over with the u.s. army overseas to places like iraq and afghanistan. and they get these management and leadership lessons from my museum using jonathan letterman, the fella that founded emergency medicine for the u.s. army, learning his lessons and how not to have to reinvent the wheel and how important support people are to the process instead of just focusing on the surgeon who actually does the surgery, you know, he has a whole crew of logistical people and supply people behind him, and if they didn't do their job, he couldn't do his. so we want to make sure
that that message gets out that even though people think history is, you know, gone by and it's not important to us, it's very important because it's still affecting our lives today. i mean, i could tell you a great story about a fella who came and took the class and thought, oh, there's nothing i could hearn from this, and then later on he was involved in hurricane katrina, the cleanup in new orleans. he called my boss and said, oh, my, i'm in 1862. i'm calling to apologize because now i don't have running water, i don't have electricity, i don't have transportation, i'm in 1862. and so he said he got it because he could use letterman's plan of how to cope with this without all these things he was used to and still get the job done and save lives, so i think our mission is very exciting. and i feel very privileged to be able to work for the organization.
after clara left in 1968, we're not really sure at this time what the space was used for other than it continued to be a boardinghouse. and edward shaw lived here until 1911. we're still in the process of going through all of the thousands of pages of paperwork to really nail down who lived here when, you know, how they might have been involved in the missing soldiers office. i believe from what i've seen that some of the clerks who actually worked in the office lived in this space also. not necessarily the office space, but we know that it appears that some of them actually boarded here also which made work very easy, you know. in answering all of those letters and doing all of that paperwork, they must have worked very, very long hours, so -- and they were paid. she paid them and had a lead
clerk who managed the office for her in her absence, and they were very successful in that few short years that they were doing the work. this room is the one that is most associated with edward shaw. it's room 12. one of the very, very interesting things about this room is the graffiti that we found on the walls. according to the wallpaper historians, it's not civil war era wallpaper, therefore, it's not civil war era graffiti, but it's still very interesting nonetheless. you can see on here it has the na names and addresses of people. right up here is my favorite, it's a cigar store and the address of it in washington. and here's the address and name of a george harris. there's a lot of hash mark going on. there are lists by days of the
week, numbers. so, it looks like somebody was adding and subtracting. so, it's just a very, very interesting wall. this one over here also has quite a bit of writing on it. mr. shaw was born in north addleboro, massachusetts, had is very close from where clara came from, she was from oxford, massachusetts, and she whe atte yale and was a -- had a law degree and worked over at the patent office as a clerk. now, he's very interesting for my medical museum from the standpoint that after the war he got a job with the surgeon general's office and was one of the clerks that helped in establishing the u.s. army medical museum which is now called the national museum of health and medicine, and that is
also nearby, used to be on the mall, it's the first time that the u.s. government actually collected specimens for studies so that they could learn as much as possible about the medical aspects and innovations from the civil war and how to treat soldiers that the next time they needed that kind of assistance. the general services administration has $1.5 million to use for the conservation and restoration project on both the first floor and the third floor. my museum is trying to raise about $5.5 million to finish doing what gsa or the general services administration doesn't have funding for to really finish out the place and then, of course, develop and implement more educational programming. the goal is to re-create the space as if clara an/o